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Stanford’s statement win and other big takeaways from Olympia Fields

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Stanford Athletics

The Stanford campus seems big enough for two contenders for the national college golf title.

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Two weeks after the reigning NCAA women’s champion Cardinal began her downfall by winning the Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach, the Stanford men followed suit Sunday south of Chicago. Led by junior Michael Thorbjornsen’s first individual win in college, the Cardinal won the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational by 12 shots over Florida and host Illinois.

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Stanford was the only team in the busy field to finish 9 under par, and this placed four of the five players in the top 12. The claimed win marks the team’s first win since last fall, when Cardinal led an equally strong field at Colonial. .

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Here are five sightings from Olympia Fields after the conclusion of one of the main regular season events on the men’s calendar:

1. Thor drops his hammer – finally

Michael Thorbjornsen has become a regular in the summer amateur tournament, winning last year’s Western Amateur and even making a splash in the pros last June by qualifying for the US Open and finishing fourth in the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. But the fifth-ranked player in the world amateur golf rankings also failed to dominate at the same level at the collegiate level in his first two years in Palo Alto, California. He didn’t make the top 10 as a freshman, and although he was a second-team All-American last season and finished in the top 10 six times, he didn’t win.

Now, after running 67-70-66 at a major championship stadium – his last round included four birdies on his last eight holes – Thorbjornsen has finally broken through to the college winning circle.

So what’s next? Most likely more wins. And with Thor collecting trophies, this Stanford roster looks like a team that could make some serious noise in the postseason.

Carl Wilips is tied for sixth and appears to have recovered from that field goal last month in the US amateur playoffs. Barclay Brown shared 12th and showed again why he was the Walker Cupper last year. Finally, fifth-year graduate Ethan Ng landed in the second top 10 of his college career, T-9.

If Stanford head coach Conrad Wray can put up even one such performance outside of his top 3 in every tournament, they could beat anyone like this week, overtaking 11 teams in my preseason top 30, including six top 10 teams. .


2. Alligators are a real find

JC Deacon had several talented teams as Florida’s head coach. This is his best.

After winning the season-opener at Notre Dame, the Gators played a tough last six holes at Olympia Fields tied for par, moving up two spots on Sunday to tie for second place with Illinois. Senior Ricky Castillo, who has struggled with bouts of inconsistency for the past two years, was old-fashioned, making just six phantoms in the entire tournament and finishing second in the individual standings, 6 short of Thorbjornsen.

Castillo’s performance shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as he tends to play well on very difficult golf courses, but as his T-48 performance at Notre Dame showed, he has yet to work on his mental faculties to get the most out of it. . days when he doesn’t have his best things.

If Florida gets the Castillos this week before the end, book them in already as Fred Biondi and Yuxin Lin are stalwarts, John Dubois has shown big flashes and Quentin Debove is quickly distancing himself from the rest of the Gators in the race for the spot. in this talented group.


3. After Puig Sun Devils just fine

Having lost their star player David Puig to LIV Golf before the fall began, Arizona State could easily have come out of the gate. But the Sun Devils did the opposite. Of course, this is the nationally ranked second program, and at least before Puig turned pro, she was expected to win almost every time she was promoted. But the start of the new season from the second or fourth is impressive, given the fields.

While I expected the trio of Preston Summerhayes, Luke Potter and José Ballester to not make the top 10, I have no doubt that these guys will find their place soon.

What I didn’t expect was the older Riggs Johnston’s start as a consecutive top-five player of the year after a nightmarish youth campaign that saw him only top-20 and remained out of six players on the Sun Devils’ postseason roster.

If Johnston supports this resurgence, there’s a lot to like about Arizona State entering the third and final NCAA championship at Greyhawk.


4. Bama answers the phone

As fall approached, I was at my best in Alabama, a program that ended last season finished 49th and didn’t qualify for regionals due to the .500 rule. So much so that I took Tide up to 22nd to start the season. But I clarified that this belief was based on the fact that the junior trio of Canon Claycomb, Thomas Ponder and JP Cave played better golf than they did together a season ago.

I think they noticed.

While Cave didn’t crack the roster, Claycomb won the team’s first tournament, the Rod Myers Invitational, and in the two tournaments he and Ponder had almost as many top 10 finishes (four) as the top three did all last season (five). And as the Alabama team won fifth place, the last finish, at least in my opinion, was more impressive as it came at Olympia Fields.


5. What worries you the most?

The current NCAA champion in Texas started the season with 10th– place of finish. The Longhorns were one shot better than the 11th-seeded preseason No. 1 in North Carolina.th. Two places behind them was Pepperdine, who scored 34 points, 43 shots behind Stanford.

So which of these three preseason top 15 teams am I most worried about right now?

Well, let’s start with Tar Heels. They finished third behind Florida at Notre Dame without Austin Greaser. Greaser returned to Olympia Fields and led the team in the T-20. Unfortunately, David Ford after losing the playoffs two weeks ago was a T-50, one of three UNC players at T-43 or worse. I think the expectations are coming early for this team, but they are too good not to realize in time for a big part of the season.

Texas was led by outstanding freshman Christian Maas with a 20-point tie.th. Everyone else, for the most part, didn’t have their best stuff. I don’t see Travis Wick publishing another T-31 again and other freshmen are gaining valuable experience right now. By April, this group will enter the top ten.

This leaves us with Pepperdine. Until this week, I was a little worried about the remnants of the Waves roster, and I’m still worried about the transfers of Luke Gifford and Roberto Nieves, who have combined more than 75 points in just twice in six rounds. Sam Choi will be at least the third All-American this season, but I’m not sure about William Maw after his T-60.

Mou has all the talent in the world, he just can’t show us all the time. Pepperdine needs William Mow since last spring (six consecutive top 13s to complete the season) if he wants to return to match play. Otherwise, it would be difficult for the Waves to simply punch a return ticket to Greyhawk.



Source: www.golfchannel.com

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